Consumers See Electronic Health Records as Important Factor when Choosing a Physician and Are Willing to Pay for the Service, Accenture Research Finds
Yet few physicians currently use electronic health records to manage patient data
The majority of consumers place some importance on whether a physician has electronic health records when choosing a physician and would be willing to pay for the service, according to research results released today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).
The goal of the research, a survey of 600 U.S. consumers and interviews with more than 100 physicians, was to gauge consumer and physician attitudes toward electronic health records (EHR). An EHR comprises an individualâ€™s medical information including conditions, medication information, test results and treatment plans that exist in electronic form.
Among the key findings: Two-thirds (67 percent) of consumers said that electronic health records are at least slightly important in their selection of a physician, and half (51 percent) said they would be willing to pay for the service, if the price were reasonable. At the same time, just one in ten physicians interviewed (11 percent) currently uses electronic records.
â€œGiven current healthcare cost pressures, it speaks volumes that consumers will open their wallets for â€“ and, in part, consider healthcare providers based on â€“ electronic health records,â€? said Brian Kelly, M.D., a partner in Accentureâ€™s Health & Life Sciences practice. â€œOn one hand, the findings are surprising. But, the need to place the consumer at the center of the healthcare ecosystem is driving industry leaders to enhance consumer access to information and empower their decision-making.â€?
Consumer respondents identified a number of potential benefits from electronic health records. More than three-quarters (77 percent) said that the benefits would include greater access to and control over their own records. Additionally, they said that electronic health records will offer them the ability to ask more informed questions of their physicians, confirm information provided by a physician, enhance their ease in accessing medical information, and help them better understand choice of treatment options (reported by 78 percent, 77 percent, 73 percent and 73 percent of respondents, respectively).
Physicians also identified several potential benefits from electronic health records. The top five benefits they cited were: easier sharing and obtaining of information; access to more comprehensive patient information; fewer lost records; improved efficiency in patient billing; and reduced clinical errors (cited by 90 percent, 88 percent, 82 percent, 82 percent and 80 percent of physicians, respectively).
When physicians were asked what electronic tools they currently use in their practice, electronic appointment booking and electronic billing / claim submission topped the list, selected by 67 percent and 66 percent, respectively. The electronic tools that physicians use least often are electronic transmission of prescriptions and e-mail referrals, cited by only 24 percent and 37 percent of physicians, respectively.
â€œThese critical digital milestones are forging new connections among consumers, payers, providers, medical researchers and industry partners,â€? said Dr. Kelly. â€œUltimately, consumer and industry stakeholders alike will benefit from the enhanced quality, access and affordability of healthcare that result from these links.â€?
Accenture conducted a research study to gauge consumer and physician attitudes toward electronic health records. The research comprised an online survey of 600 adult consumers, including chronically ill patients, taken from a representative sample of the U.S. population, as well as telephone interviews with 100 physicians, evenly divided between specialists and general practitioners.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills, and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With approximately 146,000 people in 49 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$16.65 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2006. Its home page is www.accenture.com.